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Piracy Your Rights Online

RapidShare Urges US To Punish Linking Sites and Not File-Sharing Sites 167

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-my-fault dept.
hypnosec writes "RapidShare has said that the U.S. government should crack down on linking sites rather than punishing file-sharing sites and strangling innovation. The file-sharing site is understandably a little worried about the recent crackdowns on sites involved in or found to be promoting piracy. Daniel Raimer, RapidShare's Chief Legal Officer, is to meet with technology leaders and law enforcement at the Technology Policy Institute forum. Responding to a public consultation on the future of U.S. IP enforcement, the company emphasized that linking sites are the real problem. It wrote, 'Rather than enacting legislation that could stifle innovation in the cloud, the U.S. government should crack down on this critical part of the online piracy network.'"
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RapidShare Urges US To Punish Linking Sites and Not File-Sharing Sites

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  • War on Google (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 20, 2012 @03:20PM (#41059075)

    The problem with cracking down on "linking sites" is that it's way to broad. When you start attacking sites that provide users a collection of links, you're effectively attacking the basis of every web site on the Internet. It will no longer be safe to provide links. Further, it will undermine search. What is google but a collection of links?

    How about we don't go after file sharing or linking sites and instead go after the RIAA and MPAA for buying our politicians and extorting money out of people by their frivolous lawsuits. I buy my content, but when they go after the basic foundation of the Internet, it makes me rethink that. No revenue means no buying politicians.

    • You don't need to host links. The pirate bay hosts magnet uri's.
      • by Altrag (195300)

        Which are, in essence, a link. Maybe not in the technical sense of a direct pointer, but its a method for finding what you're looking for.

        Saying otherwise is just as pointless as the old bitching about how "piracy" wasn't a problem because "pirates" roamed the high seas and wore eye patches. Technically true, but a fundamentally pointless argument in practice -- which specific buzzword was used as the label is irrelevant.

        Shakespeare even pointed this out several centuries ago ("A rose by any other name.."

        • by Tanktalus (794810)

          Its not like "using the wrong label!" has ever really held up as a useful argument.

          I dunno about that. If you get pulled over for speeding, and the cop writes down "Tuesday" but it's Wednesday, that is liable to get the ticket thrown out.

          But, other than that, yes, the courts are unlikely to be impressed by technical hocus-pocus acts.

          • That's because Tuesday is a label for a specific day, and Wednesday is not a label for the same day - it is an inaccurate label. The point is that it doesn't matter what we label something as long as we all know what is being discussed. And in such a situation, arguing semantics just makes you look like a tool.

        • It is quite important to draw these distinctions. Had Romeo not been a Montague, or Juliet not been a Capulet, then perhaps they wouldn't have been star-crossed lovers with only a fleeting romance. Likewise, by conflating the infringing of a legal monopoly with theft or piracy, the argument is tainted and hope of rational argument quickly goes out of the window. Accepting the propaganda labels of cartels that the important distinctions aren't important is a major loss to finding a reasonable outcome.
          • by gmhowell (26755)

            Had Romeo not been a Montague, or Juliet not been a Capulet, then perhaps they wouldn't have been star-crossed lovers with only a fleeting romance.

            Or if they hadn't been idiotic teenagers prevented from just fucking each other due to lack of quality birth control.

          • Likewise, by conflating the infringing of a legal monopoly with theft or piracy, the argument is tainted and hope of rational argument quickly goes out of the window. Accepting the propaganda labels of cartels that the important distinctions aren't important is a major loss to finding a reasonable outcome.

            I'm sorry, but you appear to be ignorant of the origin of the term "piracy" to refer to acts of copyright infringement.

            Several decades ago, there was a radio station called Radio Caroline, and it broadcast from a ferry anchored in international waters off the coast of South-East England. Then along came Radio Atlanta, a little bit further north.

            The term "pirate radio" was born, to describe unlicensed, off-shore broadcasts. As happens in language, the term gained new usages, and came to refer to all unlice

        • by russotto (537200)

          Which are, in essence, a link. Maybe not in the technical sense of a direct pointer, but its a method for finding what you're looking for.

          MPAA v. 2600 made a legal distinction between those two. An actual link can be infringement, the text version of the link without html directives are not. Go figure.

          • by Altrag (195300)

            Don't know the details of the case, but if its as cut-and-dry as you make it out, that sounds like the work of either a brilliant lawyer or a stupid judge (or both.)

            Not that I have any love for the MPAA but come on -- if it points me to something, its a "link" I can follow, regardless of whether I can just click or if I have to cut and paste it (and the lines are even blurring these days with the advent of automatic link detection in various software.) Similarly, a "magnet" vs a "torrent" are both just lin

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        Conceptually it's the same problem though.

        Computer nerds viewed torrents as a way around file sharing rules because you never shared the whole file, only a little piece of it, guess how well that went over?

        Changing the technology being used doesn't change what it does, if I post a list of hashes that my browser can interpret as the comments on /. they may as well be the actual links to the comments. Storing a collection of magnets, or links or providing any resource that allows me to access something I'm no

        • by Larryish (1215510)

          The real question with magnet links is...

          How do fucking magnets work?

        • I don't know who thought only sharing pieces of a copyrighted work isn't copyright infringement. It's not a way around file sharing rules, its a way of removing the central host and distributing the network load.
          A magnet uri on the other hand is a number. When you want to find the content you think the magnet uri refers to you ask a bunch of people "Do you know what this hash belongs to?". If doesn't say "The location of the content this uri refers to is here." There is a slim chance it could refer to many
        • by agrif (960591)

          It might be whack-a-mole, but the law is having smaller and smaller ground to stand on.

          All information is just a number; this sounds like a facetious remark but it's really central to this whole ordeal. A 3 megabyte MP3 file is an extremely large number (by our standards), usually somewhere around 2^3,000,000. A magnet URI is a much smaller number, usually around 2^128, and magnet URIs are literally just numbers.

          The problem here is that current copyright law says numbers can't be copyrighted, and common sen

          • by Sir_Sri (199544)

            but the law is having smaller and smaller ground to stand on.

            I think it's the other way around, the law is going to get more and more broad, because it's going to be about what you can do with a collection of numbers (after all, everything on computers is just 1's and 0's), or the interpretation of that number rather than the number itself is what matters on you.

            We prohibit things like guns (in civilized countries at least) because access to them is dangerous. But it's not the gun itself that is illegal usually, it's the possession of it, the transport of it, the sa

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      , you're effectively attacking the basis of every web site on the Internet

      And they dont care as long as they are still in business and make money.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 20, 2012 @03:20PM (#41059083)

    I doubt anybody would punish linking somewhere without punishing outright sharing too.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Monday August 20, 2012 @03:37PM (#41059305)

      The UK just did it..... sent a man to jail for 4 years because he provided links to piratebay, demonoid, and other sites that had TV shows/movies.

      Of couse the UK has demonstrated itself to be as bad as Russia when it comes to free speech, so I guess we shouldn't be surprised.

      • by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Monday August 20, 2012 @04:02PM (#41059611)

        The UK just did it..... sent a man to jail for 4 years because he provided links to piratebay, demonoid, and other sites that had TV shows/movies.

        That sounds innocuous enough - but keep in mind that he actually made GBP35,000/month in 2009 with these activities.
        Given that they were merely link sites, his hosting costs weren't going to put much of a dent into those figures.

        Now I'm not saying that his profiting is what made it illegal (it was illegal either way), or that 4 years in jail is an appropriate sentence - but let's not kid ourselves by suggesting that these site operators are only wishing to give to the world, to provide cultural enrichment to the needy, etc. They most certainly do profit by providing an avenue through which 'piracy' is committed.

        That said, under my copyright reform suggestion, linking sites would in fact not be a valid target for legal action. But not because of some misguided 'free speech' concern. ( In case you were referring to the Pussy Riot thing - wow. Did you really just equate the two? If so, you may wish to read up on that case a bit more. It's many times more scary than any piracy-linksite getting targeted is. )

        • Except the UK had ruled that linking sites were legal. Also, I seem to recall the site in question linking to legitimate sources as well, such as Hulu and iTunes.
          • Except the UK had ruled that linking sites were legal.

            iirc there were two cases in which the sites in question were deemed legal. It remains a case-by-case thing. However, I do agree that the charge in this case is suspicious at best (conspiracy to defraud).

            Also, I seem to recall the site in question linking to legitimate sources as well, such as Hulu and iTunes.

            Probably - but let's face it, even TPB has magnet links to Linux distros, The GIMP, etc. That doesn't suddenly make TPB the 'go to' place for al

            • Probably - but let's face it, even TPB has magnet links to Linux distros, The GIMP, etc. That doesn't suddenly make TPB the 'go to' place for all things F/L/OSS - and judges would be similarly unimpressed by the argument that the site 'also links to' when that is an insignificant component of the site's functioning and intent.

              It wasn't an insignificant amount of the links posted, and they would make the same amount off of ads whether or not the links were legal or illegal. Your argument is not on based up

          • From what I remember reading only one quarter were infringing.

            In all reality any site that host links like this should simply block anyone accessing from the USA. I am no international lawyer, but I think part of the problem is that his site was available in the USA, even if it was hosted in the UK. It is probably a grey zone, in terms of international law, but since the UK is bending over to USA based entities, this probably doesn't matter.

      • by Artraze (600366) on Monday August 20, 2012 @04:07PM (#41059683)

        ... which is so awesome, even, because that's already down the slippery slope: Piratebay and Demonoid don't have TV shows/movies either, they only link it themselves (torrents are just oversized links). So that means there is now someone in jail for linking to a site linking to pirated bits. Can one even argue there's a difference between:
        https://thepiratebay.se/ [thepiratebay.se]
        https://www.google.com/search?q=thepiratebay [google.com]
        https://www.google.com/ [google.com] seatch for "thepiratebay" and click the first link
        ?

        Sense is really just not a player here.

        • an one even argue there's a difference between:
          https://thepiratebay.se/ [thepiratebay.se]
          https://www.google.com/search?q=thepiratebay [google.com]
          https://www.google.com/ [google.com] seatch for "thepiratebay" and click the first link

          Yes, one can argue that. If argued in front of a judge, they'd even agree with the argument. If argued in front of any reasonable person, they'd also agree.

          Open up TPB in one window, open up Google in another. Present to some person unfamiliar with either. Give them 5 minutes to explore each site. Now ask them to giv

        • by Shagg (99693)

          Of course there's a difference. Google has a lot more money than TPB does. Bullies go after the weak, not other kids bigger than they are.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          Sure, but there is a huge difference between linking to the front page and links to specific pages that exist only to facilitate copyright infringement of one particular item. It's like a guy asking you "Do you know where I can get some drugs?" and the difference between you answering "Try the phone book." and "Here's the number for a dealer I know." A lot of people like to pretend the phone book and your guide book to local drug dealers with phone numbers are one and the same, because they both contain pho

  • Not that easy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thoriumbr (1152281) on Monday August 20, 2012 @03:21PM (#41059099) Homepage
    It is hard to go after the linking sites, they are way too much. The storage sites are just a few, and is easy to go after them.
    • And what if we add in the thousands of paste sites as well? If someone were to construct a small algorithm we could paste links to these sites, and point these leaves back up to a trunk. Then find them either with a search engine, or by scanning several paste sites. I seems to me that this could all be handled by a bit of javascript in a person's browser.

      Suddenly instead of a single paste site, it becomes a web of information from an amalgamation of sites, pieced together by an agent running on a desktop?

      So

  • Uploaders? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Monday August 20, 2012 @03:21PM (#41059101)

    Shouldnt they actually go for the uploader and not hosting company or the ones that link? Ahh going for uploaders would hurts their business, so they would rather have the authorities going for the ones that link.

    • Re:Uploaders? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@@@project-retrograde...com> on Monday August 20, 2012 @03:31PM (#41059221)

      Shouldnt they actually go for the uploader and not hosting company or the ones that link? Ahh going for uploaders would hurts their business, so they would rather have the authorities going for the ones that link.

      Shouldn't they actually go for the content creator and not the uploader or the hosting company? Ahh pointing out that content creators licenses are what causes the uploading, hosting and linking to be illegal makes them look stupid, so they would rather have unlimited copyright for "a limited time" that's actually THREE GENERATIONS OF HUMANS in length.

      • Shouldn't they actually go for the content creator and not the uploader or the hosting company? Ahh pointing out that content creators licenses are what causes the uploading, hosting and linking to be illegal makes them look stupid, so they would rather have unlimited copyright for "a limited time" that's actually THREE GENERATIONS OF HUMANS in length.

        While I agree that rights' holders current licensing schemes, artificial distribution limits, etc. etc. very much are a huge factor in piracy, the duration of

        • by Esteanil (710082)

          Let's be honest - if copyright duration were reduced to those 5 years, or even 3, do you honestly believe that a significant portion of current 'pirates' would stop 'pirating' material that is not yet 3 years old?

          No. I believe that if the powers that be hadn't committed the largest theft in the history of mankind - stealing the vast majority of our cultural works and hiding them away behind their paywalls (those they don't just let rot and vanish from the face of the earth so they won't compete with their new works), piracy would never have risen to the levels it's at now - and would be much harder to justify.

          Now? It's too late. We've already got several generations hooked on easy, free, downloads.
          And strangely, whe

    • You say that they should go after the uploaders. That sounds like a good principle (in fact, I favor this approach - although in my view rapidshare would not be an innocent bystander either).

      There's just one problem with what you are suggesting - how do you suggest they go after the uploaders?

      Have you ever sent an e-mail to rapidshare asking for information on the user who uploaded a file? Did you get that information? Were you able to use that information to get additional information required for legal

      • Most uploaders make money of their uploads. Most hosting companies including Rapidshare pay you proportional to the number of times your file is uploaded. If you can pay them you most definitely can exactly pinpoint them.
         
        And if you cannot pinpoint the uploader, bad luck, there is nothing one can do about it. Let piracy happen. The only ones as far as I can see doing something illegal is the uploaders.

        • s/uploaded/downloaded

        • And if you cannot pinpoint the uploader, bad luck, there is nothing one can do about it. Let piracy happen.

          But then you'd end up in one of the quandaries of my proposal for copyright reform. My proposal is to do away with copyright and instead strictly enforce distribution rights. This would require RapidShare to collect legal information about the uploading party specifically, and exclusively! (though I wouldn't put it past politicians to pervert it), for the purpose of distribution rights enforcement.

          So

          • My proposal is to do away with copyright and instead strictly enforce distribution rights

            Copyright is intellectual property law. What's the point of having a license to distribute IP when you have just abolished IP?

            • No, copyright law is one of various intellectual property laws. Patent law is another one, for example.

              Distribution rights are already in existence - film companies license out films for distribution to local marks, for example. But this doesn't mean that the company that took that license has free reign over the content. The copyright holder retains its right to exercise control over it almost completely. That's why copyright holders can (try to) go after downloaders, uploaders, hosts, link sites, etc.

      • by Shagg (99693)

        So if going after the people who actually committed infringement is too hard, that means they should go after easy targets whether or not they are liable?

        • So if going after the people who actually committed infringement is too hard, that means they should go after easy targets whether or not they are liable?

          (emphasis mine)
          Absolutely not - but only regarding the part I emphasized.

          I'm certainly not suggesting that if they can't go after the actual murderer, that they should just arrest some random passerby who they reasonably know was there due to cell logs and asking the question "where were you on the night of...".

          The question is, of course, whether or not r

    • Why that's crazy talk!

      You young people and your logic...

    • Shouldnt they actually go for the uploader and not hosting company or the ones that link? Ahh going for uploaders would hurts their business, so they would rather have the authorities going for the ones that link.

      The other problem is that the hosting sites may be in jurisdictions that aren't so sympathetic to foreign entities screwing with their legal system. This would mean it is easier to screw with parties that are making money in jurisdictions that are sympathetic.

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Monday August 20, 2012 @03:22PM (#41059107)

    Daniel Raimer, RapidShare's Chief Legal Officer, is to meet with technology leaders and law enforcement at the Technology Policy Institute forum. Responding to a public consultation on the future of U.S. IP enforcement, the company emphasized that linking sites are the real problem. It wrote, 'Rather than enacting legislation that could stifle innovation in the cloud, the U.S. government should crack down on this critical part of the online piracy network.'"

    "Rather than enacting legislation that could stifle innovation in the cloud, the U.S. government should crack down on this critical part of the online piracy network.'"

    I guess that's Newspeak for "Do it to Julia, don't do it to me, do it to her!"

    But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Monday August 20, 2012 @03:25PM (#41059133)
    As the first poster mentioned, it's not a crime. I can even link to a criminal site if I want, with the link saying "Look! Here's a criminal site! The bastards!"

    If they start regulating what you can link to, the internet is doomed. Don't go there.

    Besides, at least in the U.S., free speech is very much an issue when it comes to links.
  • by gavron (1300111) on Monday August 20, 2012 @03:25PM (#41059149)

    The "problem" isn't file sharing. That's legal. It's not linking. It's legal. What's against the law
    are violations of the law (e.g. copyright).

    HOWEVER, in saying "don't come after us, go after linking sites" rapidshare has thrown the
    babies to the wolves in hopes that they can evade a similar fate.

    Rapidshare, for that, deserves to die. Linking sites and sharing sites are legal. The US Federal
    government and its ICE dogs will sooner or later be brought to task. (Rojadirecta probably).
    We'll still remember that Rapidshare threw everyone else to the dogs.

    E

    • Eliminate copyright. Problem solved.
      • by houghi (78078)

        Yeah, bu that would create so much jobs, we would need to eliminate the war on drugs, so people who can do the jobs can get out of prison.

      • Eliminate copyright. Problem solved.

        hear, hear

        Well, partially anyway. It wouldn't exactly 'solve' the problem, would it?

        People commit murders despite cops chasing after them, jailing some of them, and even killing a few of them every once in a while. "Eliminate laws regarding homicide. Problem solved." - but you'd still have murderers. You might even have more murderers if you find that you can legally get away with it (of course you might get the family/friends of the victim going out to kill you, and t

    • But what makes Rapidshare so different from say Gmail? You can send a big attachment to a 'public' email, then publish the password and user name to a 'link' site. Google will then perform the same function that Rapidshare does. Or how about Googledocs. What if someone posts a copyrighted work there?

  • by davidwr (791652) on Monday August 20, 2012 @03:49PM (#41059427) Homepage Journal

    Your post advocates a

    ( ) technical ( ) legislative (X) government ( ) market-based (X) finger-pointing (X) political

    approach to fighting illegal file-sharing over the Internet. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws.)

    (X) There is no centralized authority that will force people to carry out your plan
    (X) Your plan is incomplete or contains too much "needs to be further discussed." phrases
    (X) Requires a consensus on whether a problem actually exists
    (X) Requires a consensus on the definition of where the problem lies
    (X) No one can agree on the definition of the problem
    (X) Proposal is philosophically inconsistent in mulple places
    (X) Computers and frequently people can't tell if a copyrighted item is being hosted legally or not
    (X) The item at the end of a link can change over time

    Specifically, your plan fails to account for

    (X) Existing court decisions protecting the very activity you want to restrict
    (X) Scalability
    (X) Extreme opportunity for mischief when abused
    (X) Technically illiterate politicians
    (X) Stupidity on the part of some people who do business over the Internet

    and the following philosophical objections may also apply:
    (X) A near-consensus that the activity you want to restrict should not be restricted
    (X) Many people download illegally because it is not feasable to obtain content otherwise
    (X) If file-sharing ended tomorrow and everything else remained the same, gross revenue wouldn't increase all that much
    (X) Is this really the purpose of government?

    Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

    (X) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.

    Looking forward to similar posts by others who can do "funny" better than I can.

    • by Kalriath (849904)

      You missed two Microsoft-related items in the "fails to account for" list. These are required per the checklist protocol. The following would work:

      Specifically, your plan fails to account for

      (X) Existing court decisions protecting the very activity you want to restrict
      (X) Scalability
      (X) Extreme opportunity for mischief when abused
      (X) Armies of trojan-riddled Windows boxes connected to the internet
      (X) Technically illiterate politicians
      (X) Stupidity on the part of some people who do business over the Intern

  • by Digital Vomit (891734) on Monday August 20, 2012 @03:52PM (#41059463) Homepage Journal
    The problem is not the file-sharing sites nor the linking sites: it's copyright law.
  • that they went after Rapidshare instead of Megaupload.

  • Bad form (Score:5, Funny)

    by JDG1980 (2438906) on Monday August 20, 2012 @03:53PM (#41059473)

    Only a united front can beat back the MAFIAA. Winston Churchill's statement on appeasement seems apropos here: "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile – hoping it will eat him last".

  • So if someone is guilty of copyright infringement for posting the web address of a file, are they guilty of murder for posting the address of a known murderer?

    Current efforts of law enforcement are already being wasted on pursuing linkers, when they should be focused on the publishers of copyrighted material. The people uploading, and the people garnering revenue from those uploads are the criminals. The file sharing sites know that plenty of people will subscribe so that they can download that material.

  • A file server you have to pay for? What exactly did rapidshare innovate in their entire existence?

  • The real battle (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Shagg (99693) on Monday August 20, 2012 @03:55PM (#41059515)

    RapidShare, MegaUpload, Demonoid, etc all provide competition to the distribution monopoly of the RIAA members. That's their real problem. It isn't about piracy. The RIAA member/cartel are more worried about artists deciding that the middlemen are no longer necessary.

    As long as the RIAA has their way, it will be impossible to operate a file locker/linking service without being arbitrarily shutdown by the "piracy" boogeyman. That's what they want, and right now they're the ones writing the laws.

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Monday August 20, 2012 @03:59PM (#41059567)
    much bigger problem.
  • Yeah way to go. Kill the messenger to demonstrate to your constituents you're doing something about the problem.
  • Okay I've read all of the reasoning here for why people are against this, but lets think about it: linking is not illegal, file hosting is not illegal, but hosting a website with the explicit purpose of linking to copyrighted material in such a way that it infringes upon the copyright of the content owners? THAT should definitely be illegal. Don't tell me none of you have ever seen a forum or a blog filled with nothing but links to illegally shared copyrighted material. Heck I've seen several that have exp

    • but realistically

      Realistically? Realistically they can never stop these websites. They can shut down a few at most (and if they're host in other countries, that's be difficult) and hope they don't lose the court cases that take place afterwards, but more will spring up in the meantime.

      So, yeah, while changing copyright law is unlikely to happen for a while yet, realistically there's no way to stop copyright infringement.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      What sounds freaking ridiculous is that you're ready to sacrifice the principle of freedom of speech to make some record execs some extra money.

  • Don't forget that the internet itself is a storage device. Assuming speed-of-light transfer (that's pessimistic) and 10Gbps transfer rates, we have a storage of about 33 kbit per kilometer of cable.

    Are they going to forbid the internet?

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